About the Center for Research on Health Care


The Center for Research on Health Care (CRHC) was created as a place where talented investigators can transform ideas into feasible projects, work together in multidisciplinary health services research teams, establish a broad-based research agenda, and train leaders and investigators in the conduct of health services research.


The mission of the CRHC is to promote and conduct exemplary health services research.

The specific objectives of the CRHC include the following:

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Research Areas

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Research Activities

Current and Ongoing Research

The primary goal of the CRHC is to promote and conduct high-quality health services research. The center's success in this area is demonstrated by its continued ability to obtain funding from federal, state, foundation, and industry grants.

The number of faculty and staff working for the CRHC and the CRHC Data Center has grown considerably in recent years. This growth has helped us provide more investigators with feedback about their grant proposals and with state-of-the-art data management and analysis services for funded studies.

In 2008, the 62 core faculty members of the CRHC served as principal investigators or co-principal investigators on 108 grants and received research funds exceeding $45 million. Moreover, during the past 4 years, the faculty published over 650 articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented their research results in hundreds of national and international conferences.

The CRHC has developed and expanded various initiatives to support its research efforts. It has a long-standing committee to review proposals for scientific merit prior to their submission to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and external funding agencies. In the research review process, CRHC core faculty and their affiliates in the research community help investigators develop rigorous and methodologically sound research projects and also help them polish their grant proposals and research protocols. Over time, the CRHC review process has been refined to include delineated procedures for proposal preparation and review. The process is now well established and is cited as an example of excellence by research and IRB administrators of the University of Pittsburgh. Each year, the CRHC receives requests for review from researchers within and outside the CRHC, and it reviews between 50 and 75 proposals with the goal of improving their scientific quality and clarity.

The CRHC has fostered the development of several interest groups and working groups as a means to support the varied interests of the faculty, to promote collaborations and multidisciplinary research, and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and solutions to problems. The Data Management and Analysis Round Table Discussion Series, sponsored by the CRHC Data Center, is designed especially for individuals involved in systems analysis, programming, data management, and other fields related to data processing for research studies. The Clinical Systems Modeling Meetings provide a research forum in which attendees can become familiar with different applications of mathematical modeling and can draw on their own areas of expertise to address problems presented by speakers each month. The Patient-Provider Communication Interest Group includes individuals from a wide range of disciplines and focuses on communication issues concerning clinical care, research, and teaching. The Death and Loss Special Interest Group includes researchers, academicians, clinicians, and community care (hospice) providers. In addition to discussing issues related to chronic illness, advance planning, palliative care, death, and bereavement, this group focuses on family support and ethical considerations. Its meetings often include presentations of members' research, topics in the current literature, and reviews of members' publications. The group frequently is an incubator for research ideas and a source of peer review for grant proposals.

Research Partners

University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) serves as the integrative academic home for clinical and translational scientists across the University's six health sciences schools, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and the region. The CTSI is directed by Steven Reis, MD, associate vice chancellor for clinical research in the health sciences. It is co-directed by Wishwa Kapoor, MD, MPH, director of the CRHC.

The institute's mission is to facilitate the translation of biomedical research advances into clinical and public health practice and policy bridging from laboratory bench to patient bedside to community-based practice.

The CRHC faculty are extensively involved in the research activities and teaching activities of the CTSI, including the research training programs that are offered by the Institute for Clinical Research Education and are described below.

Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion

The CRHC has had a long-term interest in expanding health services research at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Its efforts in this regard have focused on recruiting faculty and staff for the VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP). In 2001, the VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Service designated CHERP as a Center of Excellence in Health Services Research.

CHERP is led by Michael Fine, MD, MSc (principal investigator) and David Asch, MD, MBA (co-principal investigator). The faculty of CHERP have broad expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, including psychometrics, database analysis, econometrics, technology assessment, and policy analysis.

CHERP's mission is to reduce disparities and promote equity and quality in health and health care among vulnerable groups of veterans and other populations. The center has four interrelated goals:

The research agenda of CHERP is designed to advance our knowledge via three stages of investigation: the detection of disparities in health and health care; the identification of the reasons for these disparities (i.e., the identification and understanding of mechanisms and mediators); and the design and evaluation of interventions to promote equity in health and health care among vulnerable populations.

RAND University of Pittsburgh Health Institute

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis. The RAND University of Pittsburgh Health Institute (RUPHI) is a formal collaboration between RAND Health, a division of the RAND Corporation, and the University of Pittsburgh schools of the health sciences. The collaboration encompasses shared activities in research, education, and training, with a particular focus on creating and broadening synergies across a range of local institutions and addressing important local and national health care problems.

RUPHI is co-directed by Melony Sorbero, PhD, senior healthy policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, and Wishwa N. Kapoor, MD, MPH, director of the CRHC at the University of Pittsburgh.

The primary goal of RUPHI is to build an interdisciplinary health services research enterprise by:

At the heart of the RUPHI endeavor is the RUPHI Pilot Grant Program. This program has also allowed the institute to create and strengthen partnerships with a number of organizations within the University of Pittsburgh and to leverage funding for junior investigators who are collecting preliminary data to include in future grant applications. To date, RUPHI has made a total of 14 pilot grant awards, partnering with the MWRI, WPIC, and the CTSI.

The RAND University of Pittsburgh Scholars Program is a unique 2-year postdoctoral fellowship program for individuals seeking to pursue careers in health services research or health policy. The program is sponsored by RUPHI, supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and housed jointly within the CRHC and RAND Health in Pittsburgh. The program has three main components:

In the RAND University of Pittsburgh Scholars Program, each scholar works with a multidisciplinary group of experienced faculty mentors from across RAND Health, the University of Pittsburgh, and affiliated research units on topics of health care delivery, health policy, patient safety, quality improvement, patient-centered care, health care organization and financing, or health care disparities.

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Educational Activities

Training Programs

The CRHC has a long-standing interest in training fellows and junior faculty in the planning and implementation of exemplary research.

In 1999, with funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (formerly known as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research), the CRHC developed the Training Program in Clinical Effectiveness/Evaluation Sciences. Under the direction of Mark S. Roberts, MD, MPP, this program was designed to provide rigorous but flexible training to enhance the conduct of health services research by offering an intensive summer program in biostatistics and quantitative methods in conjunction with other courses in cost-effectiveness analysis, decision analysis, quality improvement, large database analysis, and advanced biostatistics.

In 2000, through a K30 clinical research training grand awarded by the National Institutes of Health, the Degree-Granting Programs in Clinical Research were developed. These innovative programs brought together a multidisciplinary consortium that included many of the schools of the health sciences plus other departments and research centers dedicated to clinical and health services research.

The Certificate in Clinical Research Program and the Master of Science in Clinical Research Program teach the skills necessary to design and conduct high-quality clinical research involving human subjects, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of clinical investigators at the University of Pittsburgh. A 10-credit core curriculum in clinical research provides a foundation in clinical research methods for a diverse group of trainees at all stages of the career pipeline, including medical students, graduate students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty.

Successful completion of the core curriculum in clinical research plus 5 elective credits leads to a certificate in clinical research. Successful completion of the core curriculum in clinical research, a year-long course in grant writing, and course requirements for one of the four specialty tracks (effectiveness, outcomes, and quality research; clinical trials research; health and behavior research; or translational research) leads to a master's degree in clinical research. In addition, students in the master's degree program may focus their elective coursework on optional content specializations, either in aging and chronic disease or in palliative care. Both degrees are granted through the School of Medicine.

In 2002, the CRHC developed similar programs in medical education. The Certificate in Medical Education Program is a 15-credit program designed for fellows and junior faculty members to enhance their skills as clinician educators, typically at either a university or community-based site. The Master of Science in Medical Education Program is a 30-credit program for fellows and faculty members who are pursuing careers in medical education and clinical teaching and who want intense training in clinical education.

Many CRHC faculty members serve as academic advisors for students in these programs, and experienced faculty researchers also serve as mentors for students who are pursuing a master's degree and developing research projects and proposals.

The CRHC has an outstanding record of mentoring and helping its students, trainees, and faculty to secure funding. Junior investigators have been funded within 1-3 years of recruitment. The CRHC is currently developing a formal mentoring program to educate mentors and mentees about their roles and responsibilities with respect to mentoring.

Seminars and Lectureships

Health Services Research Seminar Series

In 1996, the CRHC created the Health Services Research (HSR) Seminar Series as a forum for researchers to discuss their work in progress, to plan methodology for new projects, and to refine presentations prior to national meetings. Seminars are held once a week.

In 2002 and 2003, CHERP and RAND became cosponsors of the series. Over the years, the HSR Seminar Series has evolved into a vehicle for the polished and professional presentation of results of completed research as well as the discussion of methodologic issues of interest to researchers in the Pittsburgh community. It has invited speakers from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, as well as speakers from the private sector and other research organizations and universities.

In 2008, for example, the speakers included researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the University of California at San Francisco, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, RAND Corporation, Duke University, and the Arabian Gulf University in Manama, Bahrain.

In addition to the general sessions and in recognition of evolving special interests of the CRHC's researchers over time, the seminar planners continue to identify specific foci for selected seminars. Examples of these foci include mental health, women's health, research and medical ethics, end-of-life care, aging, and health care disparities.

If you would like to be added to the distribution list for this series, click here.

Sonis Lectureship

The Sonis Lectureship, cosponsored by the CRHC and the Department of Health Policy and Management (formerly the Health Services Administration) of the Graduate School of Public Health, honors Anne C. Sonis as a loving wife, mother, and grandmother and lauds her personal interest in and professional commitment to the ideal of ensuring every citizen the right to compassionate, high-quality health care.

We are looking forward to the next Sonis Lecture to be held in the Fall of 2016. Please check back at a later date for more information.

Presenters of the Sonis lectures have included the following:

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CRHC Services Provided to the Core Faculty

The CRHC provides the following services to members of its core faculty:

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Institutional Affiliations of the Core Faculty

The core faculty consists of individuals who are committed to the center's goals and have contributed substantially to its mission by mentoring young investigators, conducting collaborative research, or participating in formal educational activities developed for health services researchers. The core faculty members are a diverse group of talented researchers and educators representing the following:

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